Skin Cancer 101:
What You Need to Know
Skin cancer is a serious condition that can have potentially life-threatening consequences. With that in mind, it's important to understand the various types of skin cancer and the signs and symptoms associated with them. Let's take a look at what skin cancer is and the three major types of skin cancer.
What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells caused by excessive exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This type of radiation can come from both natural sources like sunlight and artificial sources such as tanning beds. The most common type of skin cancer is melanoma, which accounts for about 3% of all skin cancers but causes the majority of skin cancer deaths. Other major forms of skin cancer include basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.
Basal Cell Carcinoma
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most commonly diagnosed form of skin cancer in the United States. It usually appears as a small, fleshy bump on sun-exposed areas such as the face or neck and can be reddish-brown or pearly white in color. If left untreated, BCC can grow large enough to cause scarring or disfigurement. Fortunately, it rarely spreads beyond its original location if treated early enough with surgery or topical medications like imiquimod cream or fluorouracil cream.
Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is less common than BCC but more likely to spread throughout the body if not treated promptly. It often appears as a firm red lump on sun-exposed areas such as the face, scalp, arms, hands, or legs that may ulcerate if left unchecked. Treatment usually involves surgery to remove all affected tissue or topical medications like imiquimod cream or fluorouracil cream. Radiation therapy may also be used in some cases when surgery isn't possible due to advanced age or poor health status.
Melanoma is one of the most serious types of skin cancer, and early detection is essential. It's now easier than ever to detect melanoma signs and symptoms because they have been thoroughly documented. The most common melanoma signs are a change in the size, shape, or color of a mole; the appearance of a new mole; or any growth that itches, bleeds, or is painful when touched. If you notice any suspicious changes on your skin let your doctor know right away - melanoma can often be successfully treated when discovered early. Regular self-checks of your skin will help you stay informed about melanoma and what to look out for.
Knowing how to recognize potential signs and symptoms of skin cancer can help ensure early detection and timely treatment before it has a chance to spread throughout your body or cause permanent damage such as disfigurement or scarring due to surgery or other treatments like radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Remember that any new spot on your body should be evaluated by a medical professional right away just to make sure it isn't anything serious! Additionally, taking extra care when outdoors by wearing sunscreen with SPF 30+ and protective clothing will greatly reduce your risk for developing any type of skin cancer in the future!
Contact our Southside Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center office to learn more about prevention and treatment.